Police in Norfolk and Suffolk issued more than 200 tickets to drivers caught using their mobile phone behind the wheel.
Roads policing officers from both counties carried out extra patrols last week as part of Operation Ringtone, which coincided with a nationwide campaign led by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC).
The week-long campaign carried out between Monday and Sunday (23-29 January) resulted in 102 tickets being issued in Norfolk while 149 were issued in Suffolk.
During the last Operation Ringtone campaign, held in November, tickets were issued to 137 drivers in Norfolk and 132 in Suffolk.
Driving while using a mobile phone is one of the ‘fatal four’ offences which makes you more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a collision; alongside speeding, drink driving and not wearing a seatbelt.
Legislative changes expected to come into effect from 1 March will see the penalty for using a mobile phone behind the wheel rise to a £200 fine and six penalty points on your licence.
Chief Inspector Kris Barnard, head of the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing & Firearms Operations Unit, said: “Using a mobile phone behind the wheel significantly increases your risk of being involved in a crash. If drivers are talking, texting or using the internet on their phones they are distracted from the job at hand and will therefore take longer to brake and longer to stop.
“If drivers are looking down at their phone they will be much less aware of what’s happening on the road around them; they’re more likely to tailgate the vehicle in front, fail to stay in the correct lane and be less aware of road signs are traffic lights.
“We use a number of tactics to carry out patrols including the use of marked and unmarked motorcycles, high-sided vehicles and officers on foot patrols. This is something we target all year round but thus campaign gives us the opportunity to highlight the dangers and increase awareness among motorists.”
Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green, said: “When talking to the people of Norfolk about their safety concerns, dangerous driving is one of their top worries, and few people claim never to have seen someone texting or talking while driving.
“The work police and partners do, not just during campaign weeks but all year round, to educate drivers is undoubtedly making people more aware of the dangers and I fully support increased enforcement campaigns like this to target offenders and bring them to justice. But there’s only so much our police can do to keep Norfolk’s roads safe – the rest comes down to social responsibility.
“Put quite simply, dangerous driving kills – whether through excessive speed, being drunk or on drugs, or not giving the road your full attention. Nearly 140 people were caught in Norfolk last November after making a selfish decision to reach for their phone while driving – they not only put themselves at risk, but also their passengers, other road users and pedestrians.”
Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore said: “Time and time again we see drivers using their phones on the move so I absolutely support the Constabulary’s campaign to increase enforcement on our county’s roads.
“Using a mobile phone at the wheel is reckless and costs lives. It absolutely horrifies me when I see drivers on their phones and sadly we see it all too often.
“Nothing that anyone is talking about on their phone while they are driving can be so important that it is worth risking their own life and the life of others.”
Police in Norfolk and Suffolk work closely with partner agencies, including Think! Norfolk Road Safety Partnership and the Suffolk Roadsafe Partnership, to educate drivers and improve safety. A lot of work is focused on the fatal four motoring offences of drink driving, speeding, using a mobile phone and not wearing a seatbelt.